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Album Review

Veterans of the California roots/country scene, guitarist Rick Shea and fiddler Brantley Kearns joined forces for this good-natured acoustic outing, covering folk favorites, classic country tunes, and a quintet of originals. Both fine singers in addition to their skill as players, Shea and Kearns bring a kind of laid-back joy to the traditional pieces, reworking them in fresh and interesting directions. A native of North Carolina, Kearns grew up in Gid Tanner territory, and he cuts loose on the old fiddle chestnut, "Sail Away Ladies." The duo reworks "Cane on the Brazos" as a country waltz. Blind Lemon Jefferson's "Black Snake Moan," as down and dirty a blues song as any ever written, is cut here as a Cajun romp. Maybelle Carter's "Loafer's Glory" and Harlan Howard's "Trouble and Me" are given loving treatments. The original tunes by Shea and Kearns seem a bit sedate by comparison to the covers, although the closing instrumental, written by Kearns, shows the fiddler knows his way around Western swing. Former Blaster Dave Alvin helped produce the album and adds national steel on "Black Snake Moan."

Trouble and Me, Rick Shea and Brantley Kearns
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